VA study finds casino gamble could work, but warns against big promises

Monday 25th November 2019

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee released several studies including one looking at the future of gaming expansion in the state.

The roughly 200 page report was conducted with the help of consultants to find out both the "local and state fiscal and economic impacts" of gaming expansion in the commonwealth as well as how officials have handled having casinos in other states.

The report included interviews with Virginia Lottery, Virginia Racing Commission, gaming oversight staff in other states along with tribal groups and gaming industry experts in the nation.

Joe MacMahon with JLARC said the expansion of casinos in the state is expected to generate $370 million in net state revenue.

However, any hopes for "high paying jobs" from the casinos were met with doubts as JLARC revealed that median wage of casino jobs were projected to be lower than the median wage of all cities.

JLARC officials also found that two resort casinos would likely not survive in Hampton Roads with the high tax rate of 40%, casting a doubtful future for the proposed resort casinos in Portsmouth and Norfolk.

Although, the reports states that the proposed casinos in the two cities could contribute at a total $95 million annually.

Another risk put on the table is the rise of problem gambling in the state which officials say could cost $2 to $6 million a year in gaming prevention and treatment cost.

Officials have recommended the state to hire an independent consultant to assess studies before casino licences are awarded stating that "casino proposals may overpromise anticipated revenue or economic impact."

Catch WAVY News 10's Brett Hall with the full coverage on this beginning at 4 p.m.

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